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Thinking Big Leads To Big Profits

In-plants are producing some very creative wide-format applications, and generating sizable revenue as a result sizable revenue as a result.

August 2012 By Chris Bauer
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The 2011-2012 college basketball season was an exciting time on the campus of Murray State University, in Murray, Ky. The Murray State Racers were the last undefeated Division I team in the nation, and people were beginning to take notice.

"I was watching a game one night on television and thought it would be fun if we had those fatheads at our games," recalls Sherry McClain, director of Print Media at Murray State. Fatheads are oversized printed likenesses of various athletes or public figures.

McClain first talked to the in-plant staff about ways they could produce fatheads in-house at a reasonable cost. Then she contacted the marketing coordinator in the athletic department and asked if he would be interested in producing fatheads at a discounted price to be used at the home games.

"And he jumped on it," she points out. "The first night they were out, people just went bananas over them."

Likewise, in-plants have been going bananas over wide-format inkjet printing for years now. Intense customer interest and rapid ROI make these devices a sure hit for those in-plants smart enough to install them. The latest IPG research shows that 59 percent of in-plants offer wide-format printing. They are continually finding new creative, innovative applications for their customers—such as the fatheads at Murray State.

McClain says her shop prints them with a Canon imagePROGRAF iPF9000s. At 48˝ wide, they have a cardboard backing and are laminated using a Xyron Pro 4400. The in-plant produced fathead versions of the school's head coach, former and current players, ESPN college basketball guru Dick Vitale, the president of the university, 'Scrat' from the movie Ice Age, and the Grinch. The athletic department handed them out to fans attending games.

McClain says that the pinnacle of the fathead program's success was when Vitale came to campus to call a Murray State game for ESPN in February, and the students had his fathead in the background of the camera shots. Research showed that the basketball team's successful season netted Murray State in excess of $46 million worth of exposure to an audience of more than 459 million people, she notes.

"I can definitely say that our investment paid for itself quickly and continues to be a money-maker for us," McClain maintains, noting that the shop printed its first banner with the Canon machine in April 2011 and the printer had paid for itself by the end of June 2011.



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